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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

New Illinois Law Would Grant Amnesty to Underage Drinkers Seeking Medical Help

Posted on in Criminal Defense

underage, underage drinking, Illinois Juvenile Crimes Defense AttorneyIn Illinois, it is against the law for anyone under the age of 21-years-old to consume, be in possession of, or deliver alcohol. Depending on the nature of the violation – as well as the charging agency – anyone found guilty violating the law faces punishment of receiving an ordinance violation, punishable by a fine, all the way to a Class 4 felony, which can be punishable by one to three years in prison. Under the state's’ Zero Tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who is found guilty of consuming or possessing alcohol receives an automatic suspension of their driver’s license for three to six months – even if they were not drinking and driving.

If a young person is charged with underage drinking, it is important to consult with an attorney regarding defenses to the charge. For example, under the law, if the young person is drinking under the supervision and approval of at least one of their parents, then they cannot be charged with violating the law.

There have been several cases, however, where the court found that exception did not apply. In one case, People v. Finkenbinder, a 19-year-old who lived at home with his parents had his mother’s permission to consume alcohol at a family party his parents were hosting at their home. The mother and son were not in the same rooms of the house during the entire party, but the mother said she witnessed her son drink two to three beers. At approximately 3 a.m., the young man was arrested by a police officer who found him walking the streets. He admitted to the officer he had been drinking. The officer performed two breath tests; one test read .09 and the second .097. The young man then admitted to having shots of alcohol, in addition to three beers. The court ultimately ruled that the underage drinking law exception did not apply to this case since the mother was not only unaware her son had consumed the shots of alcohol, but was also unaware that he had left the house.

Because of the consequences of underage drinking, many teens will not seek medical help in the event that they, or someone they are with, have consumed too much alcohol and are in serious danger. However, Illinois lawmakers are seeking to change that with a new law. The law would grant amnesty to underage drinkers who call 911 seeking medical help, and also grant amnesty to the person who is need of medical help. The new law would also give law enforcement the ability to decide situations when the law could be applied. Both the House and Senate have approved the bill and it is now on the governor’s desk awaiting his approval.

If your child has been arrested for underage drinking, contact an experienced Oak Brook juvenile justice attorney. Call the offices of Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. today at 630-472-9700.

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